LAFCO consultant gives update on proposal to change water suppliers
Last updated 8/26/2021 at 1:17pm
FALLBROOK – The Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts are seeking to switch water suppliers to save ratepayers money, and this issue continues to be studied by an outside consultant hired by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO. The consultant, Dr. Michael Hanemann, gave a partial update on his progress at the Aug. 16 meeting of an advisory committee established by LAFCO.
There was a robust discussion between the San Diego County Water Authority, and the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts.
Both districts have submitted applications to LAFCO to change suppliers. Instead of continuing to purchase water from the Authority, the districts are seeking to become wholesale water customers of the Eastern Municipal Water District, which serves Temecula and several other cities in Riverside County. If LAFCO approves the applications, the districts would be able to buy their water for millions of dollars less each year compared to what they are paying today to the Authority.
The move would collectively save the agencies and their ratepayers about $7-10 million per year. The Water Authority has raised rates, on average, 8% per year, which has taken a heavy toll on local ratepayers, including the agricultural industry.
Hanemann, who presented his latest findings at the LAFCO advisory meeting, is analyzing the issue of water reliability for Fallbrook and Rainbow if they switch to Eastern. He is also studying the rate impact to the 22 other water agencies that purchase water from the Authority and assessing if there should be any termination fees for the agencies to depart from the Authority.
In response to the lengthy discussion, Hanneman said he will dig deeper into several components of his study.
He indicated he will have his draft final report on Sept. 20.
“Eastern’s water supply can meet the needs of both our agencies,” said Jack Bebee, general manager of Fallbrook Public Utility District. “While we didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything, we certainly appreciate his work and look forward to his draft report, which will be one of the things that will inform the LAFCO board as they consider our proposals.
“Taking steps to address rising water costs is a priority for us and our customers,” Bebee said.
If FPUD and Rainbow were to change water wholesalers, the financial impact on the remaining county ratepayers would be minimal – about 50 cents per month, per water meter.
LAFCO is currently analyzing the applications that FPUD and Rainbow submitted last year, along with the results of Hanemann’s analysis. LAFCO is expected to vote on the matter early next year. If approved, FPUD and Rainbow voters would have the final say in an election held in each of the two districts’ service areas.
Submitted by Fallbrook Public Utility District.